Near the ceiling of the radio room, a string of multicolored twinkle lights runs the perimeter, up and over the edges of baffles tacked to the walls. We're all sitting around the table with big, foamy microphones in front of our faces, and I've got headphones on because I'm reading first. To my right at the head of the table, the host, Leigh Anne Kranz, also headphoned, talks into her mic, her voice sweet and measured and soothing.
Between her thumb and finger, she holds and just so slightly rolls a small object. I'm trying to figure out what it is. It's oval-shaped and a light amber color, and as she gestures it through the air while speaking, its polished surface catches the light.
It's a crystal, I realize. Some sort of radio talisman, maybe, a special touchstone she holds as she performs on the air, and I love knowing this about her. I figure this talisman centers Leigh Anne in her work - and it centers me, too, makes me feel a little less nervous about reading this essay out over the airwaves.
She rolls the talisman between her thumb and finger and signals Domi, across the table, who reads my intro, and then I'm reading.
Now it's after the break in the radio show, and I'm listening to the other readers, full of glee because my reading is over and I did OK.
I notice Leigh Anne doesn't have the crystal anymore. I glance at her other hand. No crystal. Maybe she only uses it when she starts the show, like a little boost of luck for the program. I love thinking about people's rituals, the way they make magic out of ordinary objects, words, actions. We know no real magic lives inside our talismans, but we hold onto them anyway, and they comfort us anyway. There's something kind of beautiful about that.
Look down on the table below her microphone, and there are two tiny objects covered in paper that twists at the ends.
Oh, right. OK. I'm a moron.
Her talisman was a cough drop.